For brands with an online presence, a strong social media engagement – not just the size of your following – is a sign that you’re making an impact in the market…
The common definition of social media engagement is “the measurement of comments, likes, and shares” but I think we have progressed beyond this definition.
I believe social media engagement (from a business perspective) is best described as: “Developing meaningful connections with current and future customers by providing information that is relevant, informative and value-adding; encouraging people to share, interact, retain and seek additional information so better business decisions can be made.”
Of course you want to rack up followers, but ultimately, the greatest measure of social media success is an engaged audience – not just a big one.
As a business, it’s quality, not just quantity, that we should be striving for. David Ogilvy summarises social media communication by stating: “Don’t count the people you reach; reach the people that count.”
Think back to when we had high school disco’s (for our Millennial and Gen Z audiences, those were organised dances normally held in our school halls), where girls often sat on one side in groups and boys on the other, neither knowing how to engage with the other, but all wanting someone to take the initiative. Social media is no different. We have an audience, who want to use our products, who want to find out more about us and how we can add value to them, but they are waiting for us to take the first step and start the con- versation. But, much like at the dance, if you don’t get your introduction right, you might never get a chance to dance with the girl or the boy of your dreams.
So, how do we initiate the conversation, make an impression and increase social media engagement? How do we reach those who count, who will add to our bottom line, who will become advocates for our products, solutions and our brands? How do we win over our dream dance partner?
While you could hope for the best – that your followers just start spontaneously getting chatty – chances are they’ll need a little encouragement…
Here are 7 tips to help drive conversation and increase your social media engagement:
It’s hard to measure your growth if you don’t have a base to start from. Analyse your social platforms and document your findings. How often are you posting, what is your style of writing and messaging, how many followers do you have on each of your platforms, how many comments and shares are you getting on average per post, or whatever numbers are meaningful to you.
Track your posts. See which posts have a better engagement and which don’t. When are your followers engaging and why? This information helps formulate your social media strategy and gives you a measurable foundation to work from.
At The Creative Café, we always start with a digital asset analysis that provides our clients with an overview of their entire digital eco-system and how each element is linked to the next and how each is performing to achieve their digital marketing strategy objectives. This gives us a base to work and measure from.
Below is an infographic that shows how each of our digital platforms have a role to play and how each are linked to create awareness, drive engagement, increase traffic, generate leads, promote content and ultimately drive brand affinity and loyalty.
No digital strategy is a one-size-fits-all solution. Since every company’s business goals are different, every company’s social media strategy will be too. Your strategy will evolve as you achieve your initial objectives. Don’t stay stagnant. Move! Challenge! Don’t get intimidated by trying to develop a highly comprehensive strategy doc (unless you are familiar with developing strategies), because so often this is what causes us to delay going to market. Know where you currently are, set clear achievable social media goals aligned to your marketing objectives and initiate your project. As you go and as you get more information and data on what is working and what is not, alter, adapt and reimplement.
Depending on your marketing objectives and what your business has to offer, your social media engagement goals might include:
- Changing public perception of your brand
- Driving web traffic
- Developing new customer leads
- Collecting feedback about new products
- Educating your audience with resources and advice
Let’s be honest, if we don’t know who we are wanting to chat to, how are we going to engage and start a conversation? Again, social is not about reaching massive audiences (although an increase in followers is and will always be a goal); it’s about reaching people that will help grow our business.
Knowing your audience will also help you determine:
- What social media sites to be on
- When to publish
- Type of content
- Brand voice
Content is key. Just like your opening line as you approach your potential dance partner across the hall, you want to be confident, authentic, understanding, but most importantly, likable. The information we publish has to add value to our audiences. The best way to figure out what content is working is to watch and learn. Experiment, observe, alter and repeat. Post content that’s worth engaging with.
Mix your content with:
- Brand-focused messaging
- Highlight your values, culture and purpose.
- Focus on your people – we don’t do business with business, we do business with people. Showcase the IP you retain and tell stories about the people behind your brand.
- Products and solution information – focus on benefits not always on sales
- Case studies and infographics
- Ask your audience – it’s about having a conversation.
- Video, video, video – there’s nothing like video to stimulate an emotional connection.
“Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.” – Seth Godin, bestselling author and blogger
How can you expect to get more engagement on your posts if you’re not paying it forward and engaging others, too? You need to give and take. It’s important for brands to practice both reactive engagement and proactive engagement.
Do things like:
- Thank people in replies and comments.
- Ask for feedback.
- Comment, don’t just like.
- Use emojis appropriately.
- Use hashtags, they allow your audiences to find more information and learn
about a topic. Hashtags are the key to being discovered on social platforms, but understand how hashtags perform on different platforms before you go all out with them.
- Follow and share blogs and news sites that create content that you and your audience will find valuable – social is about sharing.
- Tag people – there is no better way to engage specific people than giving them credit and showcasing them.
- Get Interactive and be creative. At The Creative Café, we always say that a brand needs to evoke an emotional connection, but it is the creative that initiates the engagement.
Authenticity is the key for building trust. By keeping it real, the relationship between your brand and followers becomes stronger, increasing customer engagement, respect and loyalty.
According to Lisa Ranieri, Group Marketing Manager at Ranieri: “Today’s consumers have become belief-driven buyers, choosing principle over product. They believe brands can be a powerful force for change and support brands who are willing to take a stand.”
Here are some tips on staying true to yourself and humanising your brand:
- Be human, it’s more relatable.
- Be honest, even when it hurts – accountability is sexy.
- Don’t fake it, you won’t make it.
- Be transparent about the good, the bad and the ugly.
- Make sure your values are true.
- Think before you speak and post.
- Encourage user-generated content. Surveys shows that consumers are 2.4 times more likely to consider user-generated content (UGC) authentic compared to brand-generated content.
- Go beyond sharing and liking and comment to start a conversation.
- Acknowledge and answer questions.
- Respond to comments with humour or warmth.
- Have a genuine desire to help. The more you engage with your audience and genuinely try to offer solutions to their problems, the more you increase sales.
- Show and highlight the people behind your brand in posts, published articles, photos or videos.
How do you want your brand to be perceived by others? Focus on creating a consistent personality and voice for your content. Consistency in tone, visual representation, scheduled posting and monitoring is key.
Having a consistent theme on your social media accounts can also increase your followers. People may be more likely to follow your page if they know what they can expect. A theme can be the type of content you share (funny/inspirational) or the look of your content (minimalist/colourful).
Post frequently, consistently, and effectively. Use social media management tools or partner with an agency that will develop your social calendar, schedule your posting, monitor your community and partner with you in driving engagement.
Consistency drives engagement, builds confidence and strengthens relationships, building equity and, most importantly, loyalty to the brand.
To end off, increase the time you invest in your social media and decrease the time you spend on your social media. Use tools and automation to help you on your journey, or partner with a digital creative agency who will help you drive the engagement you need to grow your business.
Enjoy the dance.
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